Blog Tour Review of Tending to Eden – Environmental Stewardship for God’s People by Scott C. Sabin

If you are taking time to read my book review of Tending to Eden by Scott Sabin, you are telling me that you are a compassionate person who cares about people and cares about the planet. However, the odds are that you have never experienced in your own personal life what you are about to read on the journey you will embark on with Scott Sabin, the Director of Plant with Purpose, within the pages of this book. That is, unless you are one of the 840 million people in the world that are chronically hungry, or survives on less than $2.50 a day, or are one of the 27 million people living as a slave.

If you have an inquiring mind and a beating heart, Tending to Eden will inform you, challenge you and change you. If you have traveled abroad to underdeveloped countries and your heart has broken for the people and their lands, Tending Eden will replace your sense of futility with hope and inspire you to act.

In the book’s foreword, Brian McLaren says it well: “Reading a book doesn’t change the world any more than writing one does. But when writers and readers are informed and inspired, they can take action together, and when that happens, change isn’t just possible; it’s inevitable.”

It has been a pleasure for me to know Scott personally, have heard him speak about Plant with Purpose reforestation projects, as well as collaborate with Scott and his staff while growing an online creation care community. I was delighted when asked to read a pre-publication galley copy of Scott’s book and be a part of his online blog tour happening simultaneously with the book’s release, today – March 3, 2010.

As the Executive Director of Plant with Purpose (formerly Floresta), Scott Sabin came to realize early on in his work that addressing serious environmental issues among the oppressed and impoverished of the world is truly foundational to the Great Commission to share the Good News, feed the poor and care for the widows and orphans – susceptible to every kind of infection disease known to man, without adequate shelter, clothing, clean water or sanitation, digging through heaps of trash for scraps to barter or eat.

Tending Eden is not going to bog you down with sad, sad stories that are more than you can bear, even though there is no end to how many Scott could have shared with his readers. Instead of painting one bleak word picture after another of the worst case scenarios and fixate on symptoms of things gone terribly wrong, Scott has chosen to inspire us and focus our attention upstream to identify causes and discover creative, sustainable solutions.

As Scott asked his questions, it became increasingly clear to him that “people need trees”, plain and simple. Without trees there is soil erosion, lack of water, failing economic and ecological systems, poverty and chronic hunger. Breaking the cycle of poverty is plausible when you know what you are up against. Take for instance waterborne disease. If you look upstream, as Scott describes, you end up with a pandemic of infectious and deadly diseases from tainted water when you don’t have trees; without firewood you can’t boil the water before you drink it. Reforestation plays a critical part in the restoration of every form of life on planet earth. But that is only one aspect of what Plant with Purpose does to help stop the vicious cycle of poverty and the ongoing depletion of natural resources.

The Plant with Purpose mission is to come along side those they serve to engage and equip them to discover and build upon their strengths. By empowering the people to participate in the process of the restoration of all things meaningful to sustain their lives, livelihood and land – dignity and independence is restored.

Plant With Purpose seeks to identify and find solutions for the real not perceived needs of the community. The impact of an environmental ministry has short-term and most importantly long-term benefits, which involves every aspect of a community: leadership and discipleship, micro-enterprises to boost the economy, rainwater harvesting and water shed restoration, agroforestry, sustainable organic farming practices, education, transportation, clothing, shelter, medical care, sanitation, quality of food and water… and the list goes on.

At the heart of the book, Scott makes it clear that in order to bring restoration, broken relationships need to be healed – personal relationships with God, relationships with one another and relationships with His creation. When you read Tending Eden, you will learn the truth about what is needed and what it takes to make a difference one life and one village at a time.

Scott has included “Step Aside” articles by some our nation’s most respected ministers and creation care leaders: Matthew Sleeth MD, Rusty Prichard, Leroy Barber, Cal DeWitt, Tony Campolo, Mark Labberton, Dr. Robert C. Linthicum, JoAnne Lyon, Dr. Paul Robinson, Tom Theriault and Tri Robinson.

Be sure to use the Creation Care Small Group Study Guide and Resources in the back of the book to start a discussion with family and friends. Seek ways to make an impact in your own community and explore ways you can partner with Plant with Purpose to accomplish their mission in the poor rural communities of Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Tanzania, Burundi and Thailand.

I found Tending Eden to be well balanced between the presentation of factual information and engaging storytelling. I pray that a copy of Tending Eden ends up in every high school and college library across the country.

Enjoy listening to Tending to Eden: An Interview with Author, Scott Sabin.

Passion to Action, a crazy love story

My friend Jay Loecken defines himself as a “Lover of God.” Husband of an incredible wife named Beth. Father of four amazing children, Ben, Bekah, Abi & Noah & Ministry Director for Crazy Love In Action.” I met Jay back in the summer of 2009 when I was the Creation Care community manager for SustainLane.com, an online green guide. I invited Jay to tell their love story Loving Others – Living Simply. The Loecken family has been traveling the United States in their RV demonstrating to all they meet “crazy love in action” based on the book Crazy Love by Francis Chan, about God’s crazy love for us and what it means to show His love to others in a tangible hands-on way. The new name of their outreach is Passion to Action. Their mission is “to inspire, empower and mobilize people to put their faith in action”. Rather than tell their remarkable story, Jay has given me permission to repost their story from their Passion to Action website. Please join us as we hit the road with Jay, Beth, Ben, Bekah, Abi, Noah and friends.

Our Story

Our dream of hitting the open road and traveling the country in an RV began in the early years of our marriage. With a few babies, moves and job changes, our dream never became a reality. In July 2007, our family had the privilege of going to Africa on a life changing missions trip. When we returned, we wept as we realized all that we had in comparison to the African people. Our country host, Paul, shared his powerful testimony of growing up in the slums. As he spoke about the importance of having a dream, we realized that we had let our dream die. We decided to earnestly seek God to see if this dream was from Him. Over several months, God spoke to us through prayer and His word and we believe He has truly led us on this adventure.

Our journey began the summer of 2007 when we went on a life-changing missions trip to Kenya, Africa.

While in Africa, we had many conversations with our country host, Paul Omondi, who grew up in the slums of Nairobi. He described the heart wrenching challenges he faced growing up in that environment and how he saw many of his friends pay for their wrong choices with their lives. He described how some of his friends were burned or stoned to death. He told us that what kept him alive in the slums was that he had a dream to one day be the President of Kenya. He spoke of how God places a dream in all of us. What was our dream? We knew it was buried deep in our hearts, but we were too busy pursuing the “American” dream to even acknowledge it. The 5 of us (little Noah stayed in Atlanta with friends) served for 10 days in Kiu, a small community outside of Nairobi, Africa. We went there to serve and bless others, but we received much more than we gave. The people of Africa changed our lives forever. Until you see them face to face, their lives are only an image on a TV screen, looking very surreal. When you hug them, talk with them, see their living conditions, pray with them, it touches your heart in a way that is hard to describe. They are the most generous, joyful people we have ever met. They are clearly poor and in desperate need of so much, yet they have a richness that many Americans will never experience. Their faces and our time together will forever be etched in our hearts.

Coming home to the U.S. was difficult as we experienced a myriad of emotions. How could we have so much and yet be so discontent? We were thankful for how blessed we were, yet at the same time wondered if all that we owned added to our life, or actually stole life from us? As we allowed these questions to surface and answered them honestly, we began to pray about what to do. As a family, we wept, prayed and searched God’s Word. We needed answers and direction. We discussed our dream of traveling the country full-time. We no longer wanted to wait for “some day”, nor did we want to just travel for site seeing, adventure, or homeschool reasons. We knew that this mission needed to have a purpose and that it was bigger than us. Initially, we felt a little crazy. We researched, prayed, questioned and wondered. We also wrestled with the fear of the unknown and the fear of failure. Through it all, we finally came to the conclusion this was in fact what we felt God was leading us to do.

In November 2007, we put our home on the market. We waited 5 agonizing months and during that time we were able to detach ourselves from our home and to purge our hearts of materialism.

In March of 2008, we sold our home. Two weeks before we moved, God provided the perfect used RV for our family and surprisingly it was driven to our home in Atlanta all the way from Las Vegas, NV. Through this and several other events we saw specifically how God was capable of meeting all of our needs.

On April 18, 2008 the house was sold, the RV was packed and we hit the road. Although we left behind many wonderful friendships, we knew beyond a doubt that we were following what God had put so heavily on our hearts.

One of Jay’s favorite quotes: “Preach the Gospel to everyone, and if necessary, use words.” St. Francis of Assisi

Follow the Loecken’s blog and read more about the mission of Passion to Action, each member of the family and their posts Stories of the Obsessed, videos and photos.